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Biggest single learning event in 2014

These things are always worth looking at because no matter how many hours one has, and no matter how carefully one plans things, there are many flights on which one learns something valuable.

For me, perhaps the biggest one was a moment of erratic fuel flow due prob99 to fuel contamination (most likely by water) following a departure from a certain southern European airport. The electric fuel pump fixed it instantly. I paid 500 quid for a lab test which found the water (plus the “gum” being 10x out of spec) but the fuel company the airport uses denied it and submitted their own test result which was (obviously) fine. And to be fair I didn’t have a case because my lab sample came out of my plane and not directly out of their bowser.

After that incident I did not fly again until the remaining fuel was dumped and most of the fuel system was replaced with specially built parts from the most reputable US shops. Cost… a few k. Nothing was found which supports the water theory. The next two flights were to FL200, over land obviously, and some 150+ hrs and many high altitude flights later, not a hitch.

So now I diligently put ~0.5% isopropyl alcohol (IPA) on every refuel if I am expecting to be doing a high altitude (basically any Eurocontrol IFR) flight anytime soon.

This event also changed the way I would depart from an airport which sees little avgas movement in the months immediately preceeding my fill-up, where fuel quality control is likely nonexistent, and which is therefore a prime candidate for contaminated fuel – especially from a bowser. From such an airport I would not depart straight to say FL180 over water or mountains but would instead fly over land until the final OAT has been reached for a bit. In most cases this modified route is of little or no consequence.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

15 years of flying through all parts of Europe. Never a single hiccup due to fuel quality for me.

Frankfurt (EDFZ, EDFE), Germany

I had two big learning events; I entered an inadvertent spin and learnt that the spin training I had at Ultimate High three years ago was worth every penny and I also learnt never to take off in a Falco with rear tank selected if it hasn’t got at least 50 litres in it otherwise the fuel pipe will unport and you will rapidly discover how well you cope with EFATO. Luckily I did OK.

Forever learning
EGTB

Boscom…. Wish I could say the same. End of 2013 I got bad fuel dirt sand like particles. Noticed erratic fuel flows and partially plugged injectors while flying from Hungary to a maintenance facility at at EDMS for another issue. [I would normally say where I got the fuel but not sure if it was there or the prior fillup. So cant say for sure.] The shop checked it to find the entire fuel system was contaminated with dirt like particles. The fuel pump Fuel Control unit was sent out and had to be overhauled. They had 700 hrs on them. The fuel lines all flushed. The Tanks drained and flushed. Basically cost thousands of Euros.

Yes I did sample the fuel before I took off. Nothing found in any of the drain sumps. I always sample the fuel prior to flight, on every preflight.

Because it was sand like particles I asked that the fuel tanks be opened up but was told it was not necessary cause it was flushed. I was not happy but I couldnt argue. On the flight out had additional partial plugged injectors so next stop was a maintenance facility in Hungary. Opened up the inspection panels to the tanks and found more sand and grit in the fuel bays. Cleaned them out by hand and with a final vacuum. The fuel filter was replace as well.

Solution: Now I have a special filter from the US which catches water and any dirt particles during fueling. I also bought some security tape to place over the fuel caps. So far no problems with the fuel.

KHTO, LHTL

I don’t want to divert this important thread so have started one on contaminated fuel induced blockages here

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I entered an inadvertent spin

Stick, could you share some more detail? I would really be interested, since I have exactly zero imagination on how that could possibly happen in normal flight…

Frankfurt (EDFZ, EDFE), Germany

Stick, could you share some more detail? I would really be interested, since I have exactly zero imagination on how that could possibly happen in normal flight…

+1 , especially when one’s pseudo is Stick & Rudder !

FAA A&P/IA
LFPN

2014 was a big learning year for me, I committed two textbook errors in the most stereotypical way possible:

-) took off from a fly-in shortly after noon, in high spirits from meeting nice fellows and seeing nice planes. Queued up fourth for take-off, all lights green, sun shining, very able R/T operators, what more do you want. Only just after take-off did the engine begin to sputter, luckily I realised quick enough I forgot to open a fuel valve. I really was very lucky there, the Rotax engine recovered by itself right over the hill on the other end of the runway

-) set off for a 3 hours navigation in brilliant weather without sufficiently checking wx further on – got wedged between rising terrain and an amazingly horizontal cloud base in the Eiffel mountains (“hills”, some would say) Buzzed some unidentified village at perhaps 100 AGL, then got completely lost finding the way home as the GPS choose that exact moment to give up, too. Arrived up at EDKV by sheer luck and calmed down over a late lunch, then hurried home before even worse weather could set in.

EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

Inadvertent spin:
The Falco is on a LAA permit and we have installed a digital AOA within the EFIS.
As part of the installation process it is necessary to fly to the stall in both dirty and clean configurations.
We did this a couple years ago without drama but recently decided to re-visit it just to be sure that we got it right and that’s when we experienced a sudden wing drop and resultant spin. Luckily I remained calm and simply applied the techniques I had been taught for spin recovery. I presumed I must have not had the ball centred and tried again with the same result. All of this was with my co-owner who has not had any spin training and is not really a “stick and rudder” kind of pilot and he readily confesses that had he been P1 he would not have had a clue what to do.
We had always planned to embark on phase two of our three phase restoration project this winter and so elected to save further investigation until after the completion of phase two as this will involve significant weight loss and some c of g changes which may well have a bearing on the aircraft’s stall behaviour.

Forever learning
EGTB

@ C210 flyer

I also bought some security tape to place over the fuel caps

What kind of tape did you buy? Do you mean to seal the caps against water or have a check if someone non authorized has opened them?

EDxx, Germany
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